Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1832)

Girls are leaving school with higher qualifications than boys: CBS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Girls are more likely to leave school with a pre-college or pre-university diploma than boys, even though boys slightly outperform girls at the start of their secondary education, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS.

The agency followed 190,000 pupils who started secondary schools in 2010 and found girls are more likely to end up with a pre-college or pre-university diploma (havo or vwo), and more boys end up with a trade school (vmbo) certificate.

At the start of their school career, there was an even division between the sexes in classes, with boys scoring an average of 75% in their primary school leaving tests and girls 74%.

But by three years in, 9% of girls and 15% of boys in vwo and havo streams had repeated a year, and the gap between the sexes was beginning to emerge.

Seven years after starting secondary school, 43% of girls had been awarded a havo or vwo diploma, compared with 38% of boys. In trade schools the difference between the sexes was less marked, but boys were more likely than girls to end up with some form of vmbo certificate.

By contrast girls starting in a vmbo class were more likely to be moved to a higher stream than boys. Some 12% of pupils left school with no qualifications at all.



Opioid painkiller prescriptions fall slightly, following awareness of the risks

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – There appears to be a slowdown in the number of prescriptions being given for heavy opioid painkillers, the Volkskrant reported on Monday.

The number of prescriptions fell by a ‘couple of percentage points’ in the first seven months of this year, after remaining stable in 2018, the paper said. It bases its claim on figures from the drugs monitoring body SFK, which also show the number of users has fallen slightly.

Last week, Leiden University researchers said the number of people ending up in hospital after using heavy painkillers soared by almost 50% within four years and more people were dying of accidental overdoses in the Netherlands.

The figures, published on academic website JAMA Network Open, cover the period 2013 to 2017 and show that the number of people prescribed opioid painkillers rose from 4.9% of the population to 6% during the four-year period.

However, both hospital admissions and overdoses all rose by around 50%. Leiden professor Albert Dahan told the Volkskrant that news of the decline in usage is ‘fantastic’ and would appear to be the result of increased awareness of the problems caused by opioids. Nevertheless, the drop of a ‘couple of percentage points,’ is still far too little, Dahan said.



VVD MPs want delay on cigarette display ban for small shops

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – MPs from the ruling coalition party VVD want to delay a ban on shops displaying cigarettes in public view by July 2021, Trouw said on Monday.

The right-wing Liberals say more time should be given to tobacconists to make adjustments and is calling for a year’s delay for small shopkeepers, the paper said. The government presented its plans to further reduce smoking nine months ago and talks on how to put the proposals into practice have been ongoing since then.

‘We would consider a more lenient start date to be a good thing,’ VVD MP Hayke Veldman told the paper. MPs are due to debate the government’s anti-smoking plans on Tuesday.

The plans include putting up the price of cigarettes to €10 a packet, introducing an outright smoking ban in the healthcare sector, at schools and playgrounds and a ban on tobacco advertising.

The measures will cover cigarettes and cigars, e-cigarettes, water pipes and ‘herbal mixtures’.

By 2020, tobacco product packaging will have to be ‘neutral’, by 2021 cigarettes should not be on public display and by 2025 supermarkets will be banned from selling tobacco altogether.

In addition, the plans would allow local authorities to refuse subsidies for organisations where smoking is still allowed, albeit in special areas.



Teens spend too much time looking at screens, say teens

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch teenagers think they are spending too much time on their phones, laptops and tablets and seven in 10 regret not spending more time outside, new research commissioned by the Volkskrant reveals.

The survey, among 569 youngsters aged between 10 and 22, showed that they spent an average of three hours and 20 minutes a day looking at a screen outside school hours.

Like their parents, the teens themselves think 2.5 hours would be a more responsible amount of time. Many teens also think that too much screen time is having a detrimental effect both on their physical and their mental well-being.

Over half (57%) the teens think overuse leads to sleeping problems and 47% think it can lead to problems with their eyesight, a lack of concentration (45%), and shoulder and back problems (50%).

Most of the teen respondents blame the light emanating from the screens. Earlier research already pointed to the negative effects on sleep quality for children who use their phones until late at night.

According to eye specialist professor Caroline Klaver the combination of long periods behind a screen and no time spent playing outside can lead to myopia or even blindness, the paper said.


A separate survey, involving over 1,000 parents, showed they are not always as aware of the health risks as their children, with only 38% citing potential shoulders and back problems.

They also underestimate the amount of time their children spend on their phones. Peter Kanne of I&O research, which conducted the survey, told the Volkskrant parents allow their children much leeway when it comes to screen use and that they think a child can navigate the internet without supervision from the age of 13.

This also means parents do not have sufficient insight in the negative aspects of their children’s online activities, he said. Despite the criticism, teenagers are happy to have the devices, with almost half saying social media a welcome addition to their lives.



Young adults are becoming independent later, due to new laws: SER

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Youngsters are being disproportionately affected by government policy and there is a widening gulf between those with the right connections to get on in the world and those without, according to a new report by government policy advisory group SER.

Efforts to improve the government finances, make the jobs market more flexible and stabilise the housing market has led to people in their 20s and 30s delaying taking major decisions and becoming independent at a later age.

They leave home when they are older than their parents did, they don’t get a permanent job straight away and delay buying a house, the report said. They also put off having children.

SER is made up of employer and union representatives and lay members. ‘High student debts make it difficult to get a mortgage and while there is a shortage of labour, the jobs on offer involve flexible contracts,’ the report said.

‘They cannot find the security which young people long for.’


The figures, SER said, speak for themselves. In 2008, 46% of 25-year-olds had bought a home, but that had fallen to 35% by 2017. The total amount owned by students to the government has risen 60% since 2011.

In 2004, half of young adults had a permanent job by the time they were 24, but by 2018 the median age had gone up to 27. Not all young adults have a tough time and SER chairwoman Mariette Hamer said there is an ‘invisible wall’ between those with the right contacts and resources and those without.

‘We were removing that wall throught good education for everyone,’ Hamer told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘But we are now living in a society of networks. Children with successful parents, family members and friends get helped to that job or internship.

But children without these advantages find it difficult to break through.’ The report is the first publication by SER’s new youth platform. The organisation wants the government to make sure that the interests of young adults are assessed in all new legislation.



Social Economic Council presents joint Migration Symposium Report

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Social Economic Council (SER) represented by the Chairman ir. Damien Richardson and the Secretary-General, Mr. Gerard Richardson paid a visit to the Honorable Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin, and presented her with the SER’s joint Migration Symposium report.

On October 26th, 2018, a cooperation protocol in the field of labor migration and population policy, was signed by the Prime Ministers of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. The three Prime Ministers gave their full support and endorsed the initiative of the SER’s of the three countries to organize a joint symposium on the theme. As result of the signed protocol a joint symposium was organized by the SER’s of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten on May 9th-10th on Curacao.

The objective of the joint symposium was, to explore, together with stakeholders, policy options with respect to the question ‘how to optimize the benefits and minimize the cost of labor migration in relation to sustainable socioeconomic development of the three countries.

The two-day event was well attended and featured local as well as international speakers. The presentations were from a wide field of participants from employee representatives of the various (international) organizations in the field of migration, such as: International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organization for Migration (UNHCR) and Caribbean Migration Consultants (CMC). In addition, to the various international organizations there were some Independent think tanks present such as; Think to do Institute Curacao, Migration Policy Institute Washington, Center of Public Policies, Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) Caracas.

There were also major employer organizations such as the Aruba Trade & Industry Association (ATIA), Sint Maarten’s Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and the Curaçao Companies Association. Nonprofit organizations (NGO’s) such as; Human Rights Caribbean, Refugees International as well as the Canadian Embassy in Bogota and Academics from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Curaçao (UoC) and the University of St. Martin (USM).

The board, management and staff of SER Sint Maarten, were pleased with the support shown by the Honorable Prime Minister, Leona Marlin-Romeo for her unwavering support throughout the entire process. The Prime Minister of Curacao Hon. E. Ruggentaath and Aruba the Hon. Evelyn Wever-Croes were also thanked said the press release. SER Sint Maarten took the opportunity to thank their sister organizations SER Aruba and SER Curacao for well-organized event.

The Ministry of Justice, the SHTA, the University of St. Martin and the Vice-Chairlady of the Council of Advice, of Sint Maarten were thanked for presence and support.


MP Wescot-Williams Adamant about Her Quest to Place English above Dutch Language

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – In a recent letter to Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (ECYS), Honorable Wycliffe S. Smith, regarding English as the first official language for St. Maarten, Member of Parliament Sarah A. Wescot-Williams reminded the Minister “how crucial this matter is in the process of nation building, and transparency and openness towards the community.” 

Wescot-Williams presented two “English Language” motions respectively in 2015 and 2016, which were unanimously passed by Parliament. Last year, the motions were brought to the attention of the Minister for his Ministry’s follow-up. 

“Responses have not been forthcoming – however I remain adamant in my quest to place English above the Dutch Language. As previously mentioned, I believe that the path to political independence starts with a path of total self-reliance and strong sense of self and the English language is a critical part of that. While we can’t ignore the process of nation building, it also allows citizens to much better and more confidently weigh in on matters of policies, legislation etc”, the MP stated. 

“There is no quick fix, it requires careful planning. Hence my request to the Minister for an action plan and a budget. In the motion of 2015, I suggested some of the steps which could be taken in the context of officially making English our first language”, the MP concluded.


Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club celebrates its 15th anniversary

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club celebrated its 15th year anniversary on Saturday August 24, 2019 with the theme: “A toast to 15 years and beyond”.

The celebration took place at the Government Administration Building. The past presidents were recognized for their efforts during their term including the founder of the club the honourable President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams, and the 2009-2010 President the honourable Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin.

The night kicked off with some empowering speeches by the founder Sarah Wescot-Williams, past President Leona Romeo-Marlin, past President Linette Gibs, past President Denise Williams- Warner, and our current President Arcides Cristina.

The Atmosphere was filled with positive energy as each speaker spoke about their experience in toastmasters, and how it has benefited them. After the speeches, a toast was made to “15 years and beyond”, followed by a mingle which brought this celebration to a successful end.

The Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club is proud of this 15th year milestone and encourages civil servants to join the club and reap the many benefits it offers.

The club meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month at the Government Administration Building conference room ground floor. In order to keep up to date with information, please like the Facebook page “The Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club”.


Pink, Phit, Phabulous to join CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Walk for the Cure St. Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Year number eight is shaping up to be great for the region’s largest cancer fundraising and awareness event - CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Walk for the Cure. 

With a new executive co-chair and several new walk managers heading in-house planning committees across the bank’s 16-member footprint, all seems set for the event to surpass its target of USD$550 000 this year. Over the last seven years the event has raised over USD$ 2.2million. The walk weekends will again be in September and October this year, with the majority of the walks taking place the first weekend in October and in many territories, fundraising activities have started. 

In St. Maarten, the bank is elated to have the Positive and the Elektralytes Foundations’ Pink, Phit, Phabulous walk/run join in its efforts. The event which is held annually by the two foundations will fuse with CIBC’s Walk for the Cure on October 5th, and together, heighten awareness and raise funds to assist those whose lives have been impacted by cancer on St. Maarten. 

“A yearly crusade of thousand joining hearts and hands, rallying for a cure against cancer has become our corporate heartbeat and it is not only my vision but the vision of our CEO, our walk Co-Chairs and our employees. To see it continue to grow, is heartwarming and hopefully we will soon be raising millions in St. Maarten for this worthy cause”, stated St. Maarten’s Country Manager, Garth Sherwood.  

“We are very honored that CIBC FirstCaribbean has chosen the Positive Foundation as the 2019 partner/beneficiary for proceeds from Walk for the Cure. This event is a fundraiser, an awareness opportunity and it addresses one of the controllable risk factors for reducing our risk for breast cancer – physical activity. We are committed to Feel it, Find it and Fight It, said President of Positive Foundation, Shelly Alphonso. 

New walk executive co-chair Dan Wright is very excited about this year’s walk and predicts that it could be “our biggest walk ever!” He noted “it’s rare to find someone who’s life has not been touched by cancer either directly or indirectly and anything we can do to assist in finding a cure is time well spent”. 

Mr. Wright who is also the bank’s Managing Director, Wealth Management noted that “CIBC FirstCaribbean has a long tradition of giving back to the communities in which we work and live and it is an honor to be involved at the leadership level in Walk for the Cure 2019. I have been a regular participant and supporter of this event since arriving in Cayman, we have a very engaged team in Cayman and across the region and I look forward to our biggest walk ever!” 

Fellow executive co-chair and Managing Director, Retail and Business Banking, Mark St. Hill said he was “humbled to be associated with the Walk for the Cure which continues to positively impact the communities we operate in helping so many individuals and families that are dealing with the scourge of cancer”. 

Petra Abdul-Hamid, the bank’s Human Resources Supporting Officer heads the St.Maarten Walk Committee. She has led the Walk consecutively for the last four years, together with a great team of dedicated employees. 

The event has attracted thousands of walkers from The Bahamas in the North to Trinidad in the South and has spawned a regional network of sponsors that has grown yearly. The efforts of these corporate partners coupled with the creative and tireless efforts of hundreds of CIBC FirstCaribbean employees who engage in diverse fundraising activities and events have propelled the fundraising from a modest USD$30 000 at the inception of the walk seven years ago to the staggering USD$512,367.39 raised in 2018. 

The funds generated from the walk, which is held in partnership with cancer care organisations in each territory, are truly life changing. The funds are used primarily to assist with the purchase and maintenance of equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. They are also used to provide assistance, care and counselling to patients and their families as well as to raise awareness, and stress the importance of early detection, through education campaigns across the region. 

Persons wishing to make a contribution to Walk for the Cure can do so by visiting CIBC FirstCaribbean St. Maarten at their Philipsburg or Cole Bay branch via the walk’s donation drop boxes and or CIBC FirstCaribbean Account C/A 10055400. 

The Walk will take place on Saturday October 5th at 5:00AM, starting from CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Mortgages & Loans Centre at Laguna View Professional Center, Welfare Road, Cole Bay. For more information contact Walk Manager, Petra Abdul-Hamid at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone +1 721-542-3511 ext 208. 


Healthy minds? The Dutch are taking fewer pills than expected

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Despite the increase in the size of the population of the Netherlands, and the rise in the number of elderly people, the amount of medicine used by the Dutch last year barely rose, according to figures from drugs usage monitor SFK.

The SFK had expected a rise in prescriptions and medicine usage of 1.5%, in line with the previous five years, but the actual figure was just 0.5%, the AD reported on Tuesday.

Experts told the paper that the difference is likely to be due to increasing awareness of the implications of medicine usage and the phenomenon of ‘deprescribing’. ‘We know now that sleeping pills are pointless because they increase the risk of falls and don’t work in the long term,’ pharmacist Bart van den Bemt told the paper.

‘That makes the cure worse than the problem. And whole groups of people used to take them.’ Groningen University professor Liset van Dijk told the paper that people may just becoming more reluctant to take drugs.

In addition, we may be living in more healthy ways, which means we need to take less medicine, she said.


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